AI farming, deep-sea mining and the hottest month ever

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July is set to be the hottest month on record. The world has already experienced its hottest week ever, with unprecedented temperatures across the northern hemisphere – and scientists fear there’s worse to come.

In this revamped Landscape News digest, we dig through the alarming climate headlines and examine how we can prepare ourselves for a potentially much, much hotter future.

This month on Landscape News

Before Project Tiger, India’s tigers were on the verge of extinction. Tapan Kumar Choudhury, Unsplash

It’s been 50 years since India launched Project Tiger to keep its iconic big cats from going extinct. Now, its tigers are bouncing back. Can they coexist with people?

In East Africa, over 23 million people are going hungry amid the worst drought in 40 years. Here’s what we can learn from this deadly catastrophe.

Meanwhile, local people are doing what they can. We spoke with four Africa-based GLFx chapters to learn how they’re building a greener food future for their communities.

And as Gabon closes in on a USD 500 million debt-for-nature swap, here’s how the West African nation is leading the world in biodiversity conservation.

What is greenwashing, and what can we do to tackle it? Our latest explainer covers all you need to know: what the term means, and how to spot it, avoid it and help get rid of it.

And in case you missed it, here’s what happened at the Finance for Nature Digital Forum, which explored how finance can help build a stewardship economy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

What we’re reading

Could white roofs help battle the heat in India? Gayatri Malhotra, Unsplash

Climate

The Mediterranean. The Middle East. China. California. Canada. The Canary Islands. South Korea.

These are just a few of the places experiencing extreme heat, wildfires and floods in what is likely the world’s hottest month ever recorded.

Whether or not this is a ‘new normal’ for the climate, one thing’s for certain: more records are set to fall as El Niño and a slowing jet stream compound human-caused climate change.

Worse yet, the Gulf Stream could shut down as early as 2025, a contentious new study has found.

So, how do we adapt? Women in India’s slums are painting their roofs white, while this ancient Chinese technology can keep homes cool without air conditioning.

Maize is just one of the crops that has been affected by heat in the past. Axel Fassio, CIFOR

People

Even if this month’s heatwaves aren’t affecting you directly, they’re bad news for the world’s food supply. Expect widespread crop failures and fish die-offs to come.

With those challenges in mind, could AI and genome editing help climate-proof our crops – or are ancient Mayan farming methods a better bet?

As Canadian wildfires sweep across Indigenous lands, the country’s First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples want a greater say in how to deal with fire.

Is the Anthropocene a thing? This small lake in Canada could tell us when we started to fundamentally alter the state of our planet.

Angolan giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis) female with young, Chobe National Park, Botswana. Charles J. Sharp, Wikimedia

Planet

Avian flu may have killed millions of birds in the past two years. The latest outbreak has shown no signs of stopping and is now on the brink of spreading to Antarctica.

Last year, the world lost an area of tropical forests the size of Switzerland – a 10-percent increase from 2021. Fortunately, deforestation has decreased considerably in both Brazil and Colombia.

And 20 years after the end of Angola’s brutal civil war, native giraffes have returned to the country’s national parks.

An offshore oil rig sits on the horizon. Zachary Theodore, Unsplash

Business

In drought-hit Uruguay, millions have been left without clean drinking water, but that isn’t stopping Google from building a new data center that would use 7.6 million liters of water a day.

Deep-sea mining could start as early as next year despite concerns over its impacts on marine life. After negotiators missed a deadline to regulate the practice, mining companies and Nauru are ready to pounce.

Financial institutions are vastly underestimating climate risks, while companies have been called to do more than just buy offsets to ‘cancel out’ their emissions.

Is natural gas really cleaner than coal? Not if you take leaks into accounts, according to a recent study.

Rice farmers in Kerala, India. Mathieu Schoutteten, Flickr

Policy

India is mulling a partial ban on rice exports – a move that could send global food prices soaring.

The U.S. will not pay reparations to poorer countries impacted by the climate crisis.

The U.K. is planning to drop its GBP 11.6 billion (USD 14.9 billion) climate finance pledge. It could also scale back its net zero plans.

The E.U. has narrowly passed a law to restore 20 percent of its land and seas by 2030 and all degraded ecosystems by 2050. Controversially, the bloc is also set to re-authorize the use of glyphosate.

China is drilling the world’s deepest holes in search of natural gas.

Russia is scaling up its military presence in one of the most biodiverse areas of the Arctic.

And from fake Twitter accounts to Wikipedia editing, the U.A.E. is greenwashing its way to COP28.

This article is focused on value chains in support of the work of the Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program (FOLUR), with funding from the Global Environment Facility.

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